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Deborah James, the Bowel Babe and her gracious acceptance of death

Dame Deborah James, also known as the Bowel Babe, has revealed that she is receiving end-of-life care at home for bowel cancer. She says she does not know how long she has left to live. This blog details her poignant message to her fans on her Instagram page and links to her most recent and final podcast.

Deborah James, the Bowel Babe

Deborah James, also known as BowelBabe, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and has spent the last 5 years giving a candid account of her treatment via the You, Me and the Big C Podcast. You can listen to her final episode by clicking the link. The podcasts were noted for addressing practical matters including hair loss, tips for dealing with finances and telling your nearest and dearest.

During the recent podcast she spoke of how her liver has stopped working over the last six months and doctors have advised her that her 'body does not want to play ball'.

No longer able to walk and sleeping most of the day, Deborah has taken the decision to return to her parents' home to spend her remaining time with her family. She spoke of this being "where she always wanted to die" and that her family home in London could remain home for her children without the "medical equipment scars" in their memories.

After thanking listeners for their support over the years, Deborah James said: "Please, please just enjoy life because it's so precious. All I want right now is more time and more life".

Have you been given a terminal diagnosis or told that you need end-of-life care?

If you have been given a terminal diagnosis, like Deborah, the following may help you gain some control:

  • The Dying Matters website provides a range of useful resources for those affected by a terminal diagnosis.
  • Speak to someone, either a family member, friend or an organisation designed to talk to people through difficult times such as the Samaritans. You may also find a counsellor can help.
  • Get in touch with a Funeral Director, after doing your research, and arrange to meet with them. You can discuss your own wishes and wants for your funeral service.
  • Did you know that you, like Deborah, can choose to die at home? A lot of people assume they have to be in a hospital or hospice but many people choose to die at home in the comfort of their familiar surroundings. A community palliative care team or the St David's hospice team will work with your GP and other services in the community to care for you at home.
  • You may have questions about what will happen to your body during this phase and once you have died. There are some specialist charities, such as Marie Curie, who can help.
  • Consider writing letters, cards and notes for people to open after your death. You may find this therapeutic too.
  • Complementary therapies such as massage and aromatherapy will help you feel better. It's important to look after yourself as much as you can.

Deborah James, speaking to the BBC about her end-of-life diagnosis for bowel cancer.

Deborah James message to her fans posted on her Instagram page:

The message I never wanted to write. We have tried everything, but my body simply isn’t playing ball. My active care has stopped and I am now moved to hospice at home care, with my incredible family all around me and the focus is on making sure I’m not in pain and spending time with them. Nobody knows how long I’ve got left but I’m not able to walk, I’m sleeping most of the days, and most things I took for granted are pipe dreams. I know we have left no stone unturned. But even with all the innovative cancer drugs in the world or some magic new breakthrough, my body just can’t continue anymore.

In over 5 years of writing about how I thought it would be my final Christmas, how I wouldn’t see my 40th birthday nor see my kids go to secondary school - I never envisaged writing the one where I would actually say goodbye.

I think it’s been the rebellious hope in me.

But I don’t think anyone can say the last 6 months has exactly been kind! It’s all heartbreaking to be going through but I’m surrounded by so much love that if anything can help me through I hope that will.

Bowelbabe Fund

I always knew there was one thing I always wanted to do before I died. I have always over the years raised as much awareness and money for the charities that are closest to me. As a result, the Bowel Babe Fund is being established and I’d love nothing more than for you to help it flourish. Please visit for all the info and to donate (link in Bio).
All I ask if you ever read a column, followed my Instagram, listened to the podcast or saw me dressed as a poo for no reason. Please buy me a drink to see me out this world, by donating the cost to the Bowel Babe Fund which will enable us to raise funds for further life saving research into cancer. To give more Deborah’s more time!

Right now for me it’s all about taking it a day at a time, step by step and being grateful for another sunrise. My whole family are around me and we will dance through this together, sunbathing and laughing (I’ll cry!!) at every possible moment!

You are all incredible, thank you for playing your part in my journey.
No regrets.
Enjoy life x

If you are at end-of-life care and want to speak to a funeral director in Conwy, Colwyn Bay or Llandudno about your plans then please get in touch with us

Speak to one of the team